On Monday Sep 15 Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) Chairman of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, introduced the Health-e Information Technology Act of 2008. If enacted as law, Stark’s bill will require the federal government to both establish standards for an interoperable health IT system by a set date and create an Open Source health IT system that will be made available to all healthcare providers at little or no cost.
Let me repeat that last part for emphasis, if enacted the bill will require the federal government to create an Open Source health IT system that will be made available to all healthcare providers at little or no cost. This marks a truly disruptive change in the Healthcare IT landscape, and one that Medsphere has been advocating for some time.
Of course, such a system already exists. It's available under the AGPL Open Source license and is based the Department of Veterans Affairs award winning VistA system. It is available for download at Medsphere.org. I'm pleased to say that Medsphere had a hand in lobbying for this legislation. Medsphere Chairman Dr. Ken Kizer has testified multiple times in front ot Congressional committees advocating Open Source in Healthcare IT. It's great to see Dr. Kizer's efforts beginning to bear fruit. While VistA is not mentioned by name in Stark's press release, the VA solution plays a significant role in the announcement. Representative Stark has been a vocal advocate for retaining VistA and applying it to both public and private sector healthcare concerns even while the VA and Department of Defense mull over alternative systems and configurations that would dismantle the venerable and proven IT system.
Medsphere's Open Source version of VistA, OpenVista, has been customized for commercial hospitals over the past five years and remains the only version of VistA deployed in a commercial hospital setting in the US today. Medsphere's success at customers such as Midland Memorial Hospital, West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Lutheran Medical Center, Century City Doctors Hospital and others is well documented.
Medsphere and Hewlett-Packard are jointly sponsoring a 1-day summit on Open Source in Healthcare on October 2 in New York City. Dr. Kizer and I will both be speaking there. If you are interested in learning more about Open Source in Healthcare IT I encourage you to attend.